NEWS of a £400,000 shot in the arm for Rathfriland Street in Banbridge has been warmly welcomed by traders and politicians alike.
Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, announced the funding for the completion of a public realm scheme, which will hope to improve on its links to Solitude Park.
Proposals for the scheme include the narrowing of the footpath to allow to provide parking/loading bays on both sides of the road; new granite footpaths; re-use of exiting granite kerbs; new lighting scheme to include extra lighting; re-profiling and resurfacing of the carriageway and undergrounding of drainage from downpipes.
Alan Wylie of Piggott’s in the town said that new lights would be a great addition to the busy commercial area.
“At winter time staff have to get to their cars basically in the dark because there are only two or three streetlights in the area and sometimes there’s not even a light on,” he said.
“I have campaigned for a long time to try and get the lights improved but every time I was told ‘no’, so I’m pleased that they have made the money available.”
He added, “I just hope that they don’t make a mess of the street when it does go ahead. People will still need to park on the street when the work is ongoing.
“Also I would like to see the work being tendered out to local people rather than elsewhere because the local people need jobs here.”
Banbridge District Council Chairman, Councillor Joan Baird said: “We are very pleased that the Department for Social Development has announced this support for the Rathfriland Street Scheme. The project has been identified as a key priority for the improvement of Banbridge and will create an attractive link between the town centre and Solitude Park, which was refurbished by council in recent years.
“We anticipate that this project will bring Rathfriland Street up to the standard which has already been achieved in Newry Street, Bridge Street and Church Square.
“Banbridge is a very attractive town and this work will further enhance the commercial core benefitting businesses, retailers, residents and visitors alike.”
Making the announcement, the DUP MLA said, “Banbridge is a town with great potential, but like many other towns it faces competition. Therefore I welcome the opportunity to announce funding to develop a further public realm scheme for Rathfriland Street.
“This scheme will greatly enhance and upgrade this busy commercial area, in line with the improvements previously carried out in the town centre.
“As Minister for Social Development I am aware of the current difficulties facing our towns and cities. The Banbridge Development Strategy identified this project as a priority regeneration initiative and I am encouraged by the dedication of Banbridge District Council who funded the Strategy and who are committed to its delivery.
“Public Realm improvements are valuable in this economic climate and besides creating employment; the outcome of this project will assist Banbridge as it strives to develop as an enterprising and competitive, yet traditional market town,” he concluded.